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Remember when e-mail marketing started, they said, direct mail is going to be a thing of the past. But even now, catalogs, donation requests, credit card offers, and local business promotions still show up in the mailbox. Direct mail is not dead.

Now they’re saying social media is going to decimate e-mail marketing, but it won’t. It also won’t harm direct mail, but social media is here to stay. So what does it mean to your business or the business for which you work? Answer this question: Who are your clients and do they use social media?

According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook and other social media is 65-plus with 100 percent growth and 50 to 64 with 88 percent growth in 2009.

If you are not a Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest user or only use social media a little bit, start using it more, or get someone in your office who is involved in marketing to do it. Look at interactions between users, examine the advertising, see what your competitors are doing, see what companies you admire are doing. Being that Facebook is the most popular of the social media sites, you should start there.

Overcoming obstacles and developing skills necessary for the corporate sector can be more easily accomplished with the moral support and sage advice of those who have gone before. Many women in West Michigan are already taking part in mentorship programs within their corporations or in community-wide programs. Here are five reasons why you should get involved in a mentorship program:

The CEO of a major bank once said, “When you have a customer crisis, there is rarely an easy solution—the solution actually lies in how rapidly, energetically, and sincerely you respond to their complaint. The quality of your response is the solution.”

If you can afford to have your brand new warehouse built from the ground up, who are you going to hire to build it? The intelligent answer is simple: a reputable building contractor with happy clients and lots of experience, right? Why on earth would you invest your hard-earned dollars to hire anyone less than a pro?

A prospective customer says, “Tell me about your firm. What’s different or special about you?”

Even the best sales people seem to choke up when they are asked this question. Usually, they spout a bunch of unconvincing statistics, talk about all their offices around the world, and tout their unique, “collaborative” approach—the same stuff anyone else can and does say.

A better response—which will engage your prospect—is to first seek additional information. You might ask, “I’m curious, have you had any past experience with our company?” or, “What particular aspect of our business would you like me to talk about?” Often, prospects have something specific they want to know about you or a doubt they harbor, and this second question will help draw it out. This way, you’ll focus in on what’s most important to that particular customer.

Finally, you should add, "The best way to talk about our firm is to share a couple of examples of recent work we’ve done with clients in your industry. Would that be helpful to you?"

Source: Andrew Sobel is the most widely published author in the world on client loyalty and the capabilities required to build trusted business relationships. Photo: Milda K.

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